California’s legal cannabis market could take a pinch due to the ongoing wildfires raging across the state. The flames have left hundreds of charred acres, obviously leading to a massive loss of revenue.
Hundreds of cannabis acres burned
The raging wildfires have not only destroyed homes and landscapes, but they have also razed potentially hundreds of cannabis farms. According to David Downs, who is the California bureau chief for cannabis farm Leafly, the damage goes beyond just being burned.
“Crops can burn, of course, but they can be tainted by wildfire smoke that makes the weed taste smoky. They call it campfire kush as a joke. You see advertisements for cannabis that has been contaminated by wildfire retardant. This cannabis looks red or pink, and that certainly is something you want to throw away,” Downs said, adding that cannabis that smoke-tainted cannabis can easily fail the state’s purity testing requirements, leading to destruction.
Downs noted that fires also lead to drought, as farm water deliveries are diverted to Cal-Fire operations. With less water, reduced sunlight exposure, and smoke, plant pests and diseases are likely to set in. All these challenges lead to low yield and potency.
Difficult to recover the losses
Farmers find it hard to recover these losses through insurance because they are left with nothing after a fire.
Loss from fires and smoke is now factored into the market for legal and illegal cannabis. Demand remains very high, and supply remains pinched for a number of reasons, and you can’t simply bring Oregon’s legal surplus over the border legally into California, Downs told KCRW.
Cannabis industry growth on the rise, and California is expected to supplement 20 percent of America’s cannabis growth by 2025. Currently, California leads the pack of states in legal sales. In the wake of the COVID-19, delivery and curbside pickup sales reached their peak.
Especially on March 16, California sales rose by more than 90 percent, which was more than the average year to date. According to research, consumers were stocking up more cannabis, while some used it for sleep anxiety during the pandemic.
So far, 67 percent of Californians are either consuming cannabis or accept it, according to recent research. The remaining percentage rejects the idea of smoking, eating, or drinking it.
Now with the raging wildfires, it remains a wait-and-see case how the flames will affect one of California’s fastest-growing industry.